Tuesday, 5 March 2013
Home Education UK; a site full of half truths and lies
I have in the past advanced the hypothesis that many home education organisations in this country cause more trouble than they are worth. Today, I want to look at the first such organisation that any parents researching home education in this country are likely to stumble across. Google ‘home education’ and the first non-commercial hit to come up is Home Education UK. Since most parents considering home education will probably begin by finding out about it on the internet; this site is likely to be the first source of information which they encounter.
There is something slightly terrifying about the Home Education UK website. It is a mixture of lies, half truths and very misleading statements. That it would be the first place that a prospective home educator might find ‘information’ goes a good way towards explaining why relations between a lot of new home educators and their local authorities are so poisonous. I will limit myself today to looking at just the first page of this site. Every page of the thing cries out for analysis, but I really don’t have the time to do a thorough job. Here is the first page that any new parent, hoping to home educate, will come across:
The first paragraph makes it clear that it is the law of the UK that is being referred to as far as home education is concerned. The second paragraph makes a statement which is, to all intents and purposes, a deliberate falsehood;
‘the law expresses the right to home educate as a parental right’
The law actually says of course that parents must cause their children to receive a suitable, full-time education. This is not ‘expressing the right to home educate as a parental right’ at all; it is laying a duty upon parents. Those who cannot be bothered to look up the actual wording of the law are therefore at once deceived into seeing home education in terms of rights and not duties. I hope that readers will see what an untruthful statement this is and how it is calculated to mislead parents from the very beginning?
Another untruthful statement is made alongside this, that:
‘In law the right to an education is unique in that it is an obligatory right, it is a right that may neither be denied or refused’
This is not true. Young children who are not deemed to have Gillick Competence’, have the right to medical treatment; a right which is exercised on their behalf by either their parents of the courts. A child of five has the right to education and medical treatment; neither of which may in general be declined.
The next paragraph makes the suggestion that there are 60,000 home educated children in this country. Since we know that only 20,000 children are known to local authorities, this would mean that there are twice as many children who are unknown. This is unlikely and no grounds are given for believing such a thing.
The final paragraph is a quotation from Lord Brougham, who was Lord Chancellor in this country in 1834. He speaks disparagingly of compulsory education. Why we would care to read the views of a man who presided over the courts of this country at a time when gay sex carried the death penalty and the law allowed men to beat and rape their wives, is something of a mystery! Perhaps his opposition to compulsory education washes away such minor points. It is worth noting in any case that in 1837, this same man introduced a bill to establish schools for ordinary children in this country and felt by that time that universal schooling was the best thing in the world.
Two more points strike one about this opening page of the first site that anybody researching home education on the internet will come across. The first is the bizarre colours; with yellow text on brown and maroon backgrounds. It puts one in mind of David Icke! The second is that this site is subsidised by no fewer than seventeen commercial companies.
Any parent who knows nothing about home education and visits the Home Education UK site will be fed a series of falsehoods and half truths of such a nature as to set them at once upon the wrong path. Those who swallow the initial lie that the law in this country describes home education as a ‘parental right’ will already be working from a distorted perspective and everything else on this site will serve only to deepen their confusion.